No sign of coronavirus among Wuhan evacuees: Minister

No sign of coronavirus among Wuhan evacuees: Minister

ANKARA-Anadolu Agency
No sign of coronavirus among Wuhan evacuees: Minister

Turkey's health minister on Feb. 2 announced that sample tests on 42 evacuees airlifted from Wuhan, China -- the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak -- would be released on Feb. 3.

Speaking to press members in the capital Ankara, Fahrettin Koca reiterated that there were no signs of the coronavirus among the evacuees, who arrived in Ankara on Feb. 1, and that no coronavirus cases had been diagnosed in Turkey. 

"Thanks to our experience, strong health organization and dynamic staff, we were among the first countries to take action," said Koca.

Emphasizing the wide measures against the virus in Turkey, he added that authorities had taken 18 samples to be studied in the country's National Virology Laboratory, where test results came out negative. 

He noted that follow-up processes continue for travelers coming from China through thermal cameras, quarantine rooms, negative pressure stretchers and medical facilities.

Koca added that similar precautions would also be taken for other countries as well.

In a separate statement, Turkey's Ministry of National Defense said the interior and exterior cargo plane that carried the evacuees had been treated by chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialists.

In addition to other materials to meet their needs while under quarantine, the evacuees were also provided televisions to pass the time, it said.

Specialists will monitor their rooms for 14 days -- in line with a virus's incubation period -- with all services, including meals, to be provided with disposable materials.

Refuse will be treated as medical waste and will be disposed in special bags, it added.

The Turkish Armed Forces' A400M type cargo plane departed from Wuhan on Feb. 1 with the evacuees including Turkish nationals, along with citizens of Azerbaijan, Albania and Georgia, after health staff confirmed they did not carry any symptoms related to the fatal outbreak.

The coronavirus, so named because under the microscope it resembles a crown, has killed at least 304 people in China, with over 14,000 infected.

Since its outbreak late last year, China has put Wuhan under lockdown in a bid to contain the virus and is building a 1,000-bed hospital to treat those affected.

Beyond China, the virus has spread to Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, France, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, India, Nepal and Canada.

Travelers from China are being screened for the virus at airports worldwide. Several airlines have suspended flights to Wuhan.